Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Take Part

(1:01) Make sure that your marina is an active part of the ActiveCaptain community. Taking part sends the message that you care about the boater's experience and are striving to make it better.

(0:57) Of course, you need to keep your marina information up-to-date so boaters can easily find what they need. Not having your data current can show an, "I don't care" attitude. Or worse, that you have something to hide. But it is more than that.

(0:49) It's important that you contribute the local knowledge about your area that you and your staff possess. Make sure to enter what you know about hazards, bridge restrictions, and other local knowledge that is important to a transient boater. You should be staying on top of this information already to ensure you can assist boaters coming into your marina. Use that same knowledge to help promote your marina's surroundings.

(0:37) Your dockmaster should have an ActiveCaptain account with the captain name of, "XYZ Marina Dockmaster" and add comments to hazards regularly to let boaters know what to expect. I know of several marinas who do this very well. It's a free way to promote your facility.

(0:30) When a comment is written for a nearby local hazard, boaters will see your marina listed as the author of the information. This shows boaters that you care about their safety, want them to have a good experience, and have good, local knowledge for the area. It's a simple way to receive some extra positive exposure.

(0:21) Don't leave it to chance. Discover the people on your staff who are knowledgeable about the area. It should be someone who regularly boats in the waters nearby or has access to others who are familiar with the issues. Get involved with boating or yacht clubs in the area. Become friends with the local towing services. Do whatever it takes to understand what lies in the waters around you.

(0:09) Let boaters know that you are going the extra step to make their cruising safer and more enjoyable. After all, if you take such great care of boaters outside your facility, it tells me I'll also be treated well when I bring you my business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Are You Up-To-Date?

(1:10) One of the best things you can do to generate more fuel and slip business is to keep your pricing current in ActiveCaptain. Every price is displayed with the date that price was entered. Even if your pricing doesn't change, it's important to update it so that the date changes. When boaters see current dates, they know that you are involved, you read your reviews, and are doing everything possible to create an enjoyable stay. Keeping your pricing accurate and up-to-date matters.

(0:54) By keeping your pricing current, boaters can find accurate information on the ActiveCaptain website, in the dozens of 3rd party apps, on hundreds chartplotter models, and on the Fuel List pages. The Fuel List displays current fuel prices by region. Boaters can sort the list by facility name, diesel price, or gas price. It's a quick and easy way to show the current data for an area. To be included in the Fuel List you must provide your current fuel prices including all taxes. You can find the Fuel List page here:

(0:38) To help you keep your fuel prices up-to-date, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, each email contact in your marker details receives an email showing the current fuel and slip pricing in our databases. Using this email is a simple way to keep all of your data current with minimal effort.

(0:28) There are two links in the email. One will take you to a page to update the prices. The other records that there are no price changes and updates the dates to today's date. It is very important to update that date information even if your pricing hasn't changed. This is how boaters know your price is fresh. It literally only takes one click.

(0:19) Having stale pricing is bad for everyone. To ensure we are providing the best pricing data we can, each night the ActiveCaptain database is scanned to find fuel prices that are more than 30 days old. These prices are removed from the database. If your fuel price is removed, you will receive an email informing you that your fuel price has been deleted. The email will also contain a link to the fuel update page allowing you to correct your pricing data so your prices will re-appear everywhere.

(0:06) If your facility has good fuel prices and competes for fuel purchases, update your fuel price whenever it changes too. Frequent updates will result in more purchases.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Private Messages

(1:00) Lately I have been receiving questions about how to communicate with boaters. Almost always, they come after a marina has received a less than positive review. While, I have addressed various aspects of handling negative reviews in past Minutes, now is a good time to go over the basics of sending a private message to a boater.

(0:52) It is wise to handle your discussion with an unhappy boater out of the public arena. This provides you the opportunity to research the problem and to turn the boater around, or at least to convince him to give you a second chance. Remember, boaters can update a review. It is not uncommon to see a review improve simply because the marina took the time to hear the boater and to understand his problem.

(0:40) Our privacy policy prevents us from revealing a boater's email address. However, there is an easy-to-use solution that allows you to reach out to the boater privately though ActiveCaptain.

(0:35) The ActiveCaptain website provides a capability to send a personal message to an ActiveCaptain user from any review. Personal messages are powerful tools for communicating with boaters in positive ways. Use this capability any time your marina receives a review - thank the boater when the review is positive and work to make things right when it is not.

(0:27) To send a personal message to an ActiveCaptain user, follow these simple steps:

  1. Click on the Captain name that appears at the top of the review. A pop-up menu will appear.
  2. Select "Send private message."
  3. Enter a message title and the message text in the window.
  4. Select "Submit."
(0:18) The next time the boater logs into the ActiveCaptain website there will be a notification that a message is waiting. Captains may optionally have messages sent directly to their email inbox. It is a good idea to offer a way for the Captain to communicate with you directly by including your email address or a phone number in the message.

(0:10) Remember to keep your communications professional and relevant. ActiveCaptain messaging may not be used to SPAM or solicit users. Arguing or harassing a captain is always bad. Use messaging sparingly and appropriately and it can be a powerful marketing tool.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sell Them Holes

(0:59) There's an old saying among marketing and sales professionals, "People don’t want drills. They want holes.” It speaks to one of the most common mistakes that promotional and sales material make. You try to sell a product or service without really understanding what it is the customer wants from it. If I don't need holes, a drill, no matter how terrific, is not something I'm going to buy.

(0:49) What does a boater looking to visit your marina really want? Do they want a courtesy car, boater's lounge, or WiFi? Not really.

(0:46) What they really want is a way to re-provision, a place to meet and greet other boaters and socialize, or a chance to update the boater blog and connect with friends and family. You need to think in terms of the benefit an amenity will bring to boaters before you can craft a meaningful message.

(0:37) Long lists of the amenities you offer do little to tell me why I should choose your marina over the competition. What I want to know is the benefit I will receive from the amenity. To do that you need to step into the shoes of boaters.

(0:31) A technique I learned years ago in an MBA class is to create scenarios of the "perfect customer." We would literally write stories describing the customer, setting up the event that led them to our product, defining what it was about the product that attracted them, explaining how they used it and what they felt. The more detail we could provide, the better.

(0:21) Doing it right typically requires more than one scenario. The same amenity might be critical to one boater and irrelevant to another. The same amenity can also have distinctly different benefits to different boaters. It can even have different benefits in different situations for the same boater.

(0:12) At first, the exercise may feel silly but if you get into it, it can be powerful. I have used the technique often in real life when I was struggling with a marketing plan. Relax, make it fun, and turn off judgments.

(0:06) By understanding what boaters are looking for, you can better know how to enhance your marina, present your message, and win more business.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.